Mushrooms are often categorized as a vegetable but are really fungi. They have been used for thousands of years as medicine and in food all over the world.
You might think of this funky fungus growing wildly in the yard or passing it by on hikes, but many non-toxic varieties add flavor and nutrients to your meals.
So, can you still enjoy mushrooms during pregnancy?
We cover everything you need to know about mushrooms during pregnancy below.
Can you eat mushrooms while pregnant?
The big question is, are these fungi safe for your growing body and baby?
Well, mostly. Most mushrooms you find in grocery stores are safe to eat during pregnancy and provide plenty of benefits, too.
Which mushrooms are safe to eat during pregnancy?
- Baby bella
When shopping for mushrooms, make sure they are firm and do not have any bruising.
While you can eat mushrooms raw or cooked, they are mainly served and eaten cooked. There is quite the debate whether we should eat always eat them cooked or if that denatures some of the nutritional content.
Cooking vegetables helps make them more easily digestible and also helps to eliminate any chance of bacteria lingering on the exterior.
Which mushrooms are unsafe during pregnancy?
Not all mushrooms are created equal. The “magic” kind perhaps, are of course not safe or suggested to use in pregnancy. They can cause hallucinations, muscle weakness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting.
Mushrooms you find in the “wild” should also be avoided. Collecting wild mushrooms poses the danger of potentially toxic mushrooms because you may not be able to properly identify them.
The side effects of eating toxic mushrooms are nausea, vomiting, and general intestinal discomfort.
There is one documented report of a pregnant woman eating an Amanita mushroom and suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a 5-day hospital stay, however, both baby and mom were fine (1).
Interestingly, there are some mushroom species yet to be discovered, so for now, stick to the grocery stores when it comes to purchasing and eating mushrooms during pregnancy!
Mushroom nutrition information
1 cup of white raw mushrooms, sliced (2)
- Calories: 15
- Carbohydrates: 2.3 g
- Protein: 2.2 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Sugar: 1.4 g
- Fiber: 0.7 g
- Potassium: 220 mg
- Selenium: 6.5 mcg
Mushrooms contain a number of vitamins and minerals that are important during pregnancy such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Notably, their star nutrient is potassium. One cup of white mushrooms contains three-fourths of the amount of potassium that one banana provides.
Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral with many essential functions in the body including heart rhythm, muscle contractions, blood pressure, digestion, and more (3).
Are there benefits to eating mushrooms during pregnancy?
Mushrooms contain prebiotics which is a specific type of fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut. Research is building on how mushrooms can positively affect the balance of bacteria in our gut (4).
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut during pregnancy affects both mom and baby. Research shows this balance affects maternal weight and weight gain during pregnancy and can permanently affect the offspring’s metabolism (5).
If grown in proper sunlight or UV-C radiation, mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D2, a nutrient that is limited when it comes to food sources, but vitally important for pregnancy (6).
Although it is estimated that 3 button mushrooms from your average grocery store only contains 40 IU vitamin D2 (7). When these same mushrooms are exposed to 15-120 minutes of mid-day sunlight, they will produce up to 10 times the amount of vitamin D.
For reference, one egg contains around 50 IU of vitamin D (8).
Enhancing your diet with mushrooms during pregnancy adds a crucial nutrient that up to 50% of pregnant women are deficient in (9).
While inflammation is a necessary response in our bodies, repeated inflammation without proper care results in chronic inflammation which is not good for our health (10). Inflammation in pregnancy has been linked to gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (11, 12).
Mushrooms contain many components that contribute to reducing inflammation.
Antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocopherols, and vitamin c, in addition to certain amino acids and fatty acids are all responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties in mushrooms (10).
Blood sugar control
There is some documentation that suggests mushrooms help control or reduce type 2 diabetes (13). While these studies aren’t specific to gestational diabetes, they showed a reduction in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C, both biomarkers of diabetes in and outside of pregnancy (13).
It is important to note, many of these studies were completed in mice, but nonetheless, it appears it definitely can’t hurt to include various types of mushrooms in your diet.
Overall, mushrooms provide many benefits to our diet. A healthy gut microbiota, adequate vitamin D intake, low inflammation, and blood sugar control are all important aspects of nutrition during pregnancy.
How to add mushrooms to your diet
Vegetarians are often quick to use mushrooms since they are a great ingredient to help create the taste and texture of meat products, but others can simply use them as a topping or side dish.
- Portobello “steaks”
- Sauté with onions to top a protein of your choice
- Mushroom soup
- Roast alongside assorted veggies
- Add to pasta or pizza
- Use in an egg scramble or omelet
What about mushroom coffee during pregnancy?
Mushroom coffee is the latest and greatest energy trend, but are they safe for pregnancy?
While we could write a full article on this topic alone, it felt necessary to include a brief statement about this mushroom product here.
Mushroom coffee is black coffee with powdered mushrooms mixed in it. It contains about the same amount of caffeine as green tea, so less than your average cup of joe. Mushrooms used typically include lion’s mane, cordyceps, chaga, or reishi; no psychedelic mushrooms are used.
There is no research on mushroom coffee during pregnancy and it is important to be aware of other ingredients contained in the coffee as well. Some blends include different herbs like tulsi (14).
Adding edible mushrooms to coffee doesn’t seem like any cause for concern, but do proceed with caution verifying all ingredients and ensuring quality.
The bottom line
While now is certainly not the time to be experimenting with wild mushrooms in the woods, it is the perfect time to grab your favorite kind of mushroom from the grocery store and prepare it the way you see fit.
Including mushrooms during pregnancy may contribute to your vitamin D intake and help keep your blood sugar in check.
Lastly, if you are not traditionally a mushroom eater, you can see there are many benefits to including them in your diet.
Are you confused about what to eat and what not to eat in order to get all the essential nutrients, manage your weight, and help baby thrive?
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By Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC | Owner & Founder and Lauren Gannon, Dietetic Intern